|39 weeks with Joseph. Or me this time around, 21 weeks, after dinner.|
1) the person growing inside me
2) how it got there
3) why is it so blazing hot in my house.
Seriously, I did my dishes with the lights off tonight, just to eliminate any further sources of heat. I'll check my work in the morning.
I've been mulling over two great articles I read this week on Catholics and sex, though they couldn't have come from more disparate situations.
Hallie (who I get to meet at the Edel Gathering this month, wooho! and who admits to being known now as "that Catholic woman who published a book about great sex," ha) would like to hear more from the Church about the "lively celebration" in the bedrooms of us married folk:
Jokes abound about "Catholic prudery" and they cause us to throw back our heads and laugh; have people not seen the size of our families, or the ages of our children? Yes, concerned folks at the grocery store, we do know how that happened. And happened. And happened.
But the misconception—the disconnect between the reality of joyful Catholic sex and the prude stereotypes—shouldn't shock us that much. We just don't sing the praises of sex nearly enough. I say this not to criticize, but rather to encourage us all to consider this issue and think about ways that we might enact positive change. Rome needs to think about it, too.In a less celebratory tone, Calah of Barefoot and Pregnant is fed up with the conflict of Church instruction--which beautifully, rightfully, thankfully says no to artificial contraception--and some lay Church members, who have berated, glared and asked her (and her brood) to sit in cry rooms during Mass (emphasis mine):
The reality is that obedience costs a young couple something — sometimes it feels like it costs us everything. But it seems to cost the larger Church nothing. So little valued is our obedience and the sacrifice it entails that most Catholics don’t even know what the Church teaches on contraception. They’ve never heard it from the pulpit. If they do hear it, they jeer and mock, because the prospect of life without contraception seems so impossible that it’s frankly ludicrous.
Equally ludicrous are those who embrace it, willingly or no. We are targets of scorn and derision, while the Church stands silently by and watches us suffer to uphold her teaching. Sometimes she even joins in the fray, building “cry rooms” to put us undesirable, multiplying masses out of sight and out of mind; providing nurseries so our children can in fact NOT come to Christ, but be put aside so the grown-ups can come to Christ in peace and quiet; interrupting homilies to ask mothers to leave the Mass with their babies, since the babies are disturbing the rest of the parishioners; in short, treating us as second-class citizens for the crime of actually obeying her teachings.Oy.
With Hallie's piece on the joy sex, I get it. Just as it'd be beneficial to shake up the language of NFP to the more clinical-sounding, less-stigmatized "fertility awareness methods," a similar shake up around the language we use to talk about sex within Catholic marriages would mean fireworks. We'd refute the lie (and it indeed is a lie) that monogamous sex, sex that is open to life, free from condoms, pills, rings, trap doors and whathaveyou--is boring. Or that it can't be spontaneous, satisfying, and, yes, really, totally sexy.
I just wouldn't want someone who's on the fence about using NFP in their marriage to think that all Catholic women have nothing but a rosy glow in their bedroom. I'd feel like I sold them a bill of goods. Because great sex in a Catholic marriage must come with what Calah is seeking--obedience. And that obedience is greatly rewarded, yes, with the blessings of a mutually respectful marital relationship and, God-willing, children.
But it's tough. Oh so tough.
It's tough to sing the praises of your contraception-free sex life to a Catholic wife and mother (someone in a situation much like Calah's), who has welcomed a bunch beautiful babies rather closely together, who has tried at least three NFP methods and not found any of them to work well for her body. Or a mother who is desperate to try and delay her next blessing for just a few more months. Or a wife who charts that damned fertile-type mucus from day five to day... 25.
Does she need (or want) to hear other Catholic women raving about how great Catholic sex is? Sure she does. The message we need to share (that the Church wants married couples to have the fulfilling sex they deserve) is an urgent one. But would it be greeted with an eye roll from couples and mothers in the situations described above?
If I were to follow Hallie's brave lead and "share the good news that is married sex," I would begin by saying that good sex, even great sex, in a Catholic marriage has seasons.
First trimester of pregnancy? Bad season.
Second trimester? Hooray!
Baby's first months? Tough times.
Baby starts sleeping through the night? "Lively celebration!"
All signs point to fertile, all the time? A complicated, frustrating season.
Signs become clearer, or a couple finds a way to deal? A better season.
I'm not saying that I think it's as simple as a snap of the fingers for a woman to better understand her fertility signs, or that it's easy for a couple to "just deal" with seemingly-hyper fertility. No. It's a cross for sure, and one that stick around for many moons.
But I do know that with crosses, the only thing you can do is pick them up, and carry them. In time, the weight of some crosses gets lighter; some get heavier and even more back-breaking to carry. But even there, the crosses have seasons, too.
If I've learned one thing by living with Sean's fibromyalgia and degenerative disk disease, it's that he has good days, bad days, awful days, and just days. His cross is still upon us. But I am thankful, so thankful for the seasons when it is lighter. And I beg for mercy and special help from our Lord when it's heavy.
So for physical suffering, or child rearing, or family-size discernment or yes, even great married sex, it's about celebrating the good seasons--and praying through the not-as-fantastic ones.
I know I've only been in this marriage gig for five years now, and I'm sure I'll laugh at my thoughts on sex one day. Right now, this is what I know. It's my good news, from the darkness of my hot house.